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New book spotlights Joburg’s trash scavengers

"Good Riddance" gives voice to garbage pickers in Johannesburg who are otherwise mostly invisible to society. (Mark Lewis/Fourthwall Books)

They are on the lowest rung of Johannesburg society. But in the book “Good Riddance,” by author Tanya Zack and photographer Mark Lewis, the city’s trash scavengers star as protagonists, according to the Urban Joburg blog.

The garbage pickers share tales of survival and dreams for a better life. Some reveal that despite their poverty and hardships, they are too proud to accept charity. The book follows the path of recyclers as they ply their trade. Many carry loads more than double their weight. Routes longer than 30 kilometers (19 miles) a day are not uncommon.

Lebo Selemela is one of the real-life characters who searches for recyclables amidst the city’s rubbish. “No one pays him for the service he provides in compacting and removing this suburban garbage,” the post says. “And no one will compensate him when his feet fail under the strain of hauling loads” six days a week, it adds. Lewis shares some photos of the scavengers here (scroll down).

The book is the fifth in a series called Wake up, This is Joburg, published by Fourthwall Books.

Urban Joburg

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